As a second semester sophomore, the inevitable question is beginning to pop up everywhere: “Are you going abroad?” Most of my friends have already decided when and where they want to go, and a few months ago I began to feel the sting of being left out of these discussions. I had always pretty much known that studying abroad (at least for a whole semester) wasn’t for me. But if everyone else was doing it, shouldn’t I?
I mulled over the idea of going abroad for a few weeks. I talked to my parents, talked to friends, and decided that maybe I really did want to go. I could go to Paris, practice my rusty high school French, and travel on weekends to Italy, Spain, London, and anywhere else I wanted to go. “This is the only time you’ll be able to really travel!” everyone said, and I began to believe them.
Then the day came when I actually looked up the logistics – with a major and two minors, would I be able to fit in the classes I needed and still go abroad? After I did the math and realized that no courses for my major or minors were offered in Paris, I realized that even if I really wanted to go abroad, I pretty much couldn’t. I knew there were ways I could make it work, but that was the moment I discovered that you should only go abroad if you really want to go for your own reasons, not because everybody else is doing it.
And I realized there are still plenty of other solutions for the hopeful traveler: internships abroad, taking summer classes abroad, and the Maymester, all of which would allow me to go abroad and still get class credit or work experience. While these options may not be as “in” as going abroad for the whole semester, there are tons of advantages that these programs offer. And while I’ll really miss my friends while they’re gone, I have to remember that feeling like I have to follow a trend is nowhere near as important as doing what I really feel would work for me and still allow me to reach my goals.